In the summer of 1971, my late brother Kevin Koenig went to the tourist village of Provincetown, Massachusetts, driven by his recent MBA from Florida Atlantic University and his girlfriend’s wishes to summer in Cape Cod. Upon the suggestion of a friend, he opened a waterbed store in the basement of a seedy house, called Love Waterbeds.
It was not a big success, but Kevin earned enough money to return to our hometown of Fort Lauderdale and rent a 900-square foot shop in the Northridge Shopping Center, where he opened Waterbed City. He sold waterbeds by day and cut frames in the back at night, and a radio spot on WSRF, an AM rock and roll station, helped attract young buyers with an ad for a $29.95 king-sized waterbed and mattress frame.
I started worked with Kevin in 1972, while still studying at the University of Florida, and we officially became partners when I graduated in 1975. Garry Ikola, now Senior Vice President of Sales, started in 1973, sporting long blonde hair parted down the middle and a thick moustache— a true sign of the 1970s. Mike Lennon, our Senior Vice President of Marketing (now retired after 37 years), and Steve Wilder, current Chief Financial Officer/Chief Information Officer, joined a few years later. Together, we guided Waterbed City on a growth path in the 1970s and 1980s. Waterbeds got better styles, waveless mattresses, temperature control, and ultimately became more popular.
Bringing on dozens of other sharp, young associates, we opened more Waterbed City stores and broadened our merchandise offerings to include trendy bedroom furniture, waterbed linens, and related accessories. Sales grew, and Waterbed City quickly became a household name as the #1 seller of beds in South Florida.
Then in 1989, after 18 years of steady growth, the waterbed industry in the United States reached a plateau and started to decline. Channeling our entrepreneurial spirit, we took a risk and committed waterbed heresy—we added innerspring mattresses to our line-up. And over the next few years, we realized we needed to fully reinvent the business.
So in August of 1994, the first City Furniture opened its doors at the North Miami showroom, with a Mission Statement that still holds proudly today:
City Furniture, the Ultimate Furniture Store, provides quality home furnishings at excellent value with friendly, efficient service in a fun and exciting environment.
The North Miami City Furniture, where we continue to operate today, opened right in the middle of tough competition. On one side stood Levitz Furniture, the #1 furniture retailer in both Florida and the United States, and on the other was Rooms To Go, a well-funded new furniture chain. The competition forced us to focus on the customer, and we were lucky enough to be successful right away.
Existing Waterbed City stores were converted to City Furniture showrooms by 1995, and now, over 20 years later, we are fortunate to be the #1 furniture retailer in our South Florida trading area. With showrooms spanning from central Florida to the west coast and all the way to Miami, we have grown to be over 1,300 associates strong. They work together every day to turn our guests into happy customers, and we are proud of our extraordinary, high customer satisfaction ratings.
And over that time, we have reached many milestones. We innovated Same Day Delivery 7 Days A Week in 2002, and recently unveiled Free Shipping, a first among furniture retailers.
We built our Kevin Charles Fine Upholstery factory in Mississippi to create high quality sofa and sectional groups, exclusively for our customers and at great prices.
We opened Ashley Furniture HomeStores in South Florida to give our customers even more wonderful furniture choices from America’s #1 furniture brand.
Style, quality, and value stay at the core of everything we do to this day. Strategic relationships at the best furniture factories in the United States and around the world help us merchandise our showrooms with furniture and accents that our customers will love.
All the while, we are mindful of our communities and our environment.
City Furniture is an active supporter in dozens of charities that make our communities wonderful, and we do our share to live Our Purpose:
To Enrich People’s Lives and Make the World a Better Place.
Also, City Furniture may be the “greenest” furniture company in the United States and throughout the world. We are proud to have built six LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Certified City Furniture and Ashley Furniture HomeStore showrooms, more than any other retailer. Plus, we recycle over 95 percent of our waste, including cardboard, paper, plastic, and EPS/Styrofoam. And our Kevin Charles sofas and sectionals feature bio-degradable soy-based cushions—it’s more expensive, but it’s the right thing to do. We operate a fleet of about 100 trucks, and most are now converted to run on clean burning, United States-produced CNG (Compressed Natural Gas).
As we look forward to a bright future with plans to grow across Florida, we are proud of our humble roots dating back to Kevin and 1971. His investment of a few thousand dollars has grown, with your support, into a place that hundreds of thousands of Floridians have gotten their furniture. That’s a relationship we value immensely.